BC court says homeless have right to sleep in parks

Last week the BC Supreme Court recognized the right of homeless people to sleep in public spaces. The ruling struck down a bylaw in Abbotsford, BC that banned temporary shelters in parks.

For the last two years the city of Abbotsford has tried to evict campers on city property by issuing bylaw notices, spreading pepper spray and chicken manure and destroying tents and other personal property. The court decision found that a prohibition on camping breached the homeless people’s charter rights to life, liberty and the security of person.

"This is a tremendous victory for the homeless population in Abbotsford – whose rights to a safe place to sleep has been established – and for all homeless people in Canada,” says DJ Larkin, lawyer for Pivot Legal Society. “For too long, the federal and provincial governments have passed responsibility for managing our national homeless crisis to cities. This decision acknowledges that this approach has failed. The time is now to enact a national right to housing.”